Martha Tabor was an educator, laborer, and photographer who documented people on the job from the 1970s to the 1990s. Tabor’s photographs of women workers are particularly well-known. The collection contains forty-one photographs taken by Martha Tabor, particularly photographs of women workers, blue collar workers, and District of Columbia municipal workers.
Majority of material found within 1978-1983
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Special Collections Reading Room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
Conditions Governing Use
Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.
Copyright resides with the University of Maryland Libraries unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.
Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.
The Martha Tabor photographs contain forty-one matted and mounted photographs primarily of women in blue and white collar occupations, the public sector, Washington, D.C. service sector employees, and midwives.
Biographical / Historical
Martha Tabor (circa 1940-2004) was a laborer and union organizer turned photographer, sculptor, and artist. Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, Tabor was raised in Washington, D.C. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Colby College in Maine and earned a master’s degree in comparative literature from the University of Maryland. Tabor later received a master’s degree in photography from Goddard College, Vermont. She held a number of jobs throughout her life, including teaching English at Frederick Community College in Maryland early in her career. During the 1980s, Tabor became a welder and a journeyman member of the United Brother of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBCJA), Local 2311. Eventually, Tabor became an active union organizer and the President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), Local 2677. She worked as a construction worker for the Washington, D.C. Metro system and began taking photographs of other laborers in the 1970s. By the late 1970s, Tabor became known for her freelance photography and founded her own photography business called Working Images Photographs, based in Washington, D.C. Tabor’s photography documented a variety of social and labor issues. In the 1980s, Tabor began receiving grants for her photography, including a prominent one from the D.C. Commission for the Arts for the purpose of photographing D.C. workers for exhibits in local government offices. During the 1990s Tabor began focusing on sculpture as her artistic medium and continued to receive grants for her artworks which are held by a number of institutions in the Washington, D.C. area. Tabor died in Washington, D.C. in 2004.
This collection is arranged in five series:
Women in Blue-Collar Trades
Service Sector Workers in Washington, DC Government
Workers in Situations of Stress
Martha Tabor donated this collection of her photographs to the George Meany Memorial Archives in 2003. The George Meany Memorial Archives transferred these records as part of a major transfer of their archive and library holdings to the University of Maryland Libraries in 2013.
The organization created by the donor was retained as much as possible. The 2003 Deed of Gift contained brief descriptive information written by Martha Tabor. The series created during processing consist of photographs as grouped and described by Tabor herself in her Deed of Gift. The only exception is Series 5: Miscellaneous, which consists of photographs not grouped by Tabor. Additionally, the photographs were numbered by Tabor and the numbers have not been changed.
The photographs were matted and framed for exhibit at the George Meany Memorial Archives that ran from February to April 2004. In order to make them more accessible, the photographs were unframed and re-boxed by dimension by the Preservation Department in October 2016.